September 14, 2012

The PDT Project: Beer Cassis

by Payman Bahmani

A simple blend of Byrrh (a fortified aromatized wine similar to a sweet vermouth with quinine), Crème de Cassis (a black currant liqueur), and soda water, the Byrrh Cassis was among a number of light aperitif style cocktails that were in vogue in Europe during the early 20th century, especially during the spring and summer months. Unlike the American cocktail tradition, these European concoctions veered toward the lighter side, both in terms of booze and body. While we were taking the European vermouths and other fortified, aromatized wines and using them to bolster and complement hard alcohol, Europeans were featuring them front and center in drinks.

Using this lighter style of cocktail as the format, Jim Meehan created the Beer Cassis as a variation on the classic. Although PDT now stocks Byrrh, necessity may have originally been the mother of this invention as Byrrh was probably unavailable in 2008 when Meehan created this drink. Instead, the very similar Dubonnet Rouge was used in the place of Byrrh, and beer was used in place of soda water to slightly increase the proof, add some depth and body, and provide some clever word play in the process.

Beer Cassis
1 oz. Dubonnet Rouge
0.25 oz. Theuriet Cassis
6 oz. Brooklyn Brewery Local 1 Beer
Lemon twist, garnish

Tools: barspoon, mixing glass
Glass: chilled white wine glass

Method: Add the first two ingredients in a mixing glass and briefly stir with ice to chill. Strain into a chilled white wine glass and top with the beer. Add a lemon twist as garnish.

While the Byrrh Cassis is light bodied and ideal for when the heat starts to creep, the spice and herbal components of the Brooklyn Local 1 make the Beer Cassis a more complex drink with much more body, making it an ideal late summer/early fall drink to help you make the seasonal transition.

*This post is part of a series in which Payman takes on the task of making and writing about every cocktail featured in the PDT Cocktail Book, as well as providing an awesome photo of each drink taken by Vanessa Bahmani Photography.

**Got a question? He can be found on twitter @paystyle, you can email him at payman@pdtproject.com, or simply drop him a comment below.

5 Comments

  • Kayoko
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Hey, I love this! What beer would you recommend for a Californian? Something like a Pilsner? Or more hoppy like an IPA? What’s Local 1 like?

  • Kayoko
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    And I haven’t seen Byrrh out here anywhere. Can’t wait to get some.

  • AK
    Posted September 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Local 1 is a Belgian-style pale. So maybe Duvel, or Russian River Damnation.

  • Posted September 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    I agree with AK. Byrrh hasn’t been available in US shelves for a long time, but should be reappearing thanks to Haus Alpenz, which is going to be importing it to the states. Thank goodness for Haus Alpenz, who’s responsible for bringing back so many defunct old school products.

  • Kayoko
    Posted September 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I found Byrrh last week at D+M Liquors in SF. Not sure if Cask carries it. Looking forward to trying this.

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